For the past two decades, the College Board has moved aggressively to expand the number of high school students taking Advanced Placement courses and tests — in part by pitching the program to low-income students and the schools that serve them.
“What if the best stuff in education were not just for the best to distinguish themselves — but could engage a much broader set of kids?” asked David Coleman, the College Board’s chief executive, in a January podcast interview. “Why are we holding it for some?”
Left out of that narrative is one of the most sobering statistics in education: Some 60 percent of A.P. exams taken by low-income students this year scored too low for college credit — 1 or 2 out of 5 — a statistic that has not budged in 20 years.
Nevertheless, the College Board, citing its own research, says its A.P. program helps all students, regardless of scores, do better in college — a claim that has helped persuade states and local districts to help pay for the tests.